John Paul II, John XXIII sainthood to draw over a million pilgrims

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Apr 23 2014 12:33 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2014 08:33 PM

VATICAN CITY – More than a million pilgrims from all over the world are expected to attend the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII on Sunday.

"We are ready for this. We are prepared because in many other occasions, like the death of Pope II, we prepared in the best way," said Massimo Ancilloti, comandate, polizia local Roma.

For the followers of the two popes, it's an important religious event they don't want to miss.

"I have a friend who is struggling with health problems and I said I will bring her intentions when I'm at the canonization," said Margaret Walsh, a pilgrim from USA.

"He is my idol pope. I have many reading materials about him," said Maria Nora Sison, a devotee of John Paul II from Iloilo province.

The Pontificio Collegio Filippino, home to Pinoy religious scholars in Rome, is also in the thick of preparations for the Sunday event.

A picture exhibit on the two former pontiffs who will be declared saints by Pope Francis is waiting to greet Pinoy pilgrims.

An anticipated mass is also scheduled in on Sunday before the start of the canonization rites.

"Napakaraming darating yung mga pilgrimage groups and I'm sure yung operators will take advantage of this beautiful event. Pag nag mass na sa Vaitcan ipa-flash namin dito sa widescreen sa aming chapel," said Fr. Gregory Ramon Gaston, rector, Pontificio Collegio Filippino.

Gaston said the Collegio has welcomed Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II in two special occasions. When the Collegio officially opened in 1961, John XXIII inaugurated the first Asian College in Rome. In 1982, Pope John Paul II blessed an image and celebrated a mass there.

The vestment relic, a personal gift of John XXIII to Collegio is now a living reminder that like Pope John Paul II, he also had a special connection with the Filipino faithful.